Realtors like to say that the three most important things in real estate are location, location and location. Lawyers have no such quip, but sometimes, timing, timing, timing is everything. I wrote previously that, no matter how badly one may want to appeal an adverse ruling, there are very few that can be taken up until the entire case is resolved. You simply cannot move on up to the higher court until that happens.
And knowing exactly when that happens is crucial for the opposite reason. If you wait too long after a “final order,” you lose your right to appeal any and all rulings in the case. The door is closed. And while what constitutes a final order should not be open to that much interpretation, lawyers and courts find ways to disagree about that too. The Supreme Court recently had to clarify (again), for instance, that if attorneys’ fees are in play as a matter of contract or statute, a request for fees does not prevent the case from being completely resolved. Attorneys’ fees, the court ruled, are a collateral matter. So a party who waited to appeal until after attorneys’ fees were awarded did so untimely and could no longer bring its appeal at all.
There is a lesson there for litigants and their lawyers in Jacksonville and everywhere else.